The Other 80%

Most design companies and DIYers focus on creating great sites, but don’t do anything about the Other 80% — what it REALLY takes for your site to rank inside Google.

Backlinks.

What are they? Well, in a nutshell, links “back” to your site from other websites. Sounds easy, but turns out, there are a LOT of different variables involved. Luckily, we’ve got your back for you.

Anchor Text

This is the first, most common mistake people make when they either ask for a link or place a link on another website. Usually people make a link on either their domain name or company name. Examples:

www.smithphotography.com

Smith Photography

As far as Google is concerned, the first link sucks. Well, they’ll track it and they’ll scan through to your website, but its not going to do anything for your ranking for the word “photography” even though you can read it in the domain name. The second example is ok if your goal is simply to get your business name in Google — this is fine for people who have already heard your business name and want to type it in to find the site. But what about people that have never heard about you before?

In our introduction to Search Engine Marketing, we used the example of “engagement pictures” being a much less competitive keyword than “wedding photographer”, so when it comes time to get a link to your website, its much better to use a phrase as the link itself. An example:

DO: My friend shot these great engagement pictures for us.

DON’T: My friend shot these great engagement pictures for us. Her site is www.smithphotography.com

See the difference? Google LOVES the first one because it tells them what the site is about. What’s even better, if that link goes directly to your Engagement Pictures page, then Google will love it even more, especially if you followed all of our tips in the On Page SEO Guide.

Using Various Anchor Text Phrases

When you do your Keyword Research you’ll discover a few keyword phrases to use for backlinks. Its good to change them up and use different phrases so you’re not using the same anchor text on all sites. Also, if you can make half of them link directly to your homepage and half to specific content pages, that’s a plus.

Where to Get/Put Links

Obviously, anywhere and everywhere you can. If you have friends, family, business partners, happy customers, industry associations, etc that will let you place a link on their site (to yours), then go for it! It never hurts to ask! Your own personal circle of influence is the fastest way to start.

One good place to get a link to your site is through Hubpages.com. Its a site where people write on thousands of different subjects and the best part is that you can place a link to your site within your hub. What’s a hub? Its really just an article. If you’re a photographer, you might write a hub about your “Top 5 Photography Tips”. If you’re a makeup artist, same deal. The point is to write something that is very useful to people, because other folks WILL read it and they’ll give you a thumbs down if its lame.

Additional options are Squidoo and Ezine. Ezine has an extra advantage because your content can get syndicated to other websites, which spreads your links even farther!

Don’t forget to make your links on your anchor text, not your domain name and don’t do more than two. Just as important is unique content. Somehow they know if your content exists anywhere else on the web, and they’ll remove it if it isn’t unique. No joke. So don’t just copy an article from your website — write something new.

“Internal” Backlinks

Another successful strategy, especially if you already have a site with a lot of pages, is to create “internal backlinks” — links within your site, leading to a page with a specific keyword phrase. An example can be found at BallparkChasers.com — their target keyword phrase is “best ballparks in Baseball” which you can find in a sidebar box on the homepage.

After creating a specific page with that keyword in the 4 Zones, they then added a content box to be displayed throughout the website, linking to that new page. Because they have a member-driven site with thousands of pages, doing this yielded thousands of internal links to that target page. The result? They went from #180 to #25 in Google on their target keyword in just one week!

Tracking Backlinks Quickly

One quick way of tracking the incoming links to your site thru Google is to type in:

link:yourdomain.com -site:yourdomain.com

You’ll see the various links coming from other websites, linking to yours. The reason for the “-site:” bit is so that Google will not show you links from your own site. Rumor has it this is not a 100% accurate function, so don’t be surprised if things are missing.